Fifty Photos Celebrate President Obama’s Visits to All 50 States


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President Barack Obama has now officially visited all 50 states in the nation, making South Dakota the last stop during his presidency.

Obama is only the fourth president to achieve this accomplishment. The other three were Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

How did the President end up in the 50th and final state? Eleven-year-old Rebecca Kelley wrote to Obama asking him to visit South Dakota.

The letter became something of a viral sensation, as Rebecca had pointed out that South Dakota was “the warmest of the Dakotas” when asking why Obama hadn’t yet visited.

Obama used his visit to South Dakota not just to meet with Rebecca and her family, but to address crowds at Lake Area Tech Community College in Watertown, SD, to talk about his plan to make community college free for all Americans.

Chief official White House photographer Pete Souza has documented all of these visits, including the one in South Dakota. To mark the achievement for the president, Souza chose one favorite photograph from each state that he and the president had visited.

“With help from photo editor Phaedra Singelis,” Souza wrote for Medium.com, “I tried to depict a variety of situations.”

Souza has captured images of the president in a number of environments, from standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon in Arizona back in 2009 to trying on cowboy boots in Dallas, TX, in 2010. It’s unknown whether Obama bought those boots, but there’s not much in terms of style that’s more American than western wear, which originated in the American West in the 19th century.

Souza said that he chose some images meant to be more poignant or evoke emotion in the viewer.

While some photographs centered on policy or politics, others focus on “his role as consoler for the nation,” said Souza. One of these sadder photos shows Obama embracing an elderly woman and consoling her in the aftermath of the tornado that hit Joplin, MO, in 2011.

Other photos are more lighthearted. Obama is seen playing pool with Gov. John Hickenlooper in Colorado and swimming in Hawaii.

In one of the photographs, Obama is seen with the First Lady and their two daughters hiking on Cadillac Mountain in Maine back in 2010.

Some don’t even feature Obama himself, but depict his visits to the states instead. Souza captured graduates cheering in the rain as Obama delivered a commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. Another photo of a U.S. Naval Academy graduation in Annapolis, MD, is a shot of many hats being excitedly thrown into the air.

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